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Back to the Border

   Alas! alas! this wasted Night
   With all its Jasmin-scented air,
   Its thousand stars, serenely bright!
   I lie alone, and long for you,
   Long for your Champa-scented hair,
   Your tranquil eyes of twilight hue;

   Long for the close-curved, delicate lips
   —Their sinuous sweetness laid on mine—
   Here, where the slender fountain drips,
   Here, where the yellow roses glow,
   Pale in the tender silver shine
   The stars across the garden throw.

   Alas! alas! poor passionate Youth!
   Why must we spend these lonely nights?
   The poets hardly speak the truth,—
   Despite their praiseful litany,
   His season is not all delights
   Nor every night an ecstasy!

   The very power and passion that make—
   Might make—his days one golden dream,
   How he must suffer for their sake!
   Till, in their fierce and futile rage,
   The baffled senses almost deem
   They might be happier in old age.

   Age that can find red roses sweet,
   And yet not crave a rose-red mouth;
   Hear Bulbuls, with no wish that feet
   Of sweeter singers went his way;
   Inhale warm breezes from the South,
   Yet never fed his fancy stray.

   From some near Village I can hear
   The cadenced throbbing of a drum,
   Now softly distant, now more near;
   And in an almost human fashion,
   It, plaintive, wistful, seems to come
   Laden with sighs of fitful passion,

   To mock me, lying here alone
   Among the thousand useless flowers
   Upon the fountain's border-stone—
   Cold stone, that chills me as I lie
   Counting the slowly passing hours
   By the white spangles in the sky.

   Some feast the Tom-toms celebrate,
   Where, close together, side by side,
   Gay in their gauze and tinsel state
   With lips serene and downcast eyes,
   Sit the young bridegroom and his bride,
   While round them songs and laughter rise.

   They are together; Why are we
   So hopelessly, so far apart?
   Oh, I implore you, come to me!
   Come to me, Solace of mine eyes!
   Come Consolation of my heart!
   Light of my senses!  What replies?

   A little, languid, mocking breeze
   That rustles through the Jasmin flowers
   And stirs among the Tamarind trees;
   A little gurgle of the spray
   That drips, unheard, though silent hours,
   Then breaks in sudden bubbling play.

   Wind, have you never loved a rose?
   And water, seek you not the Sea?
   Why, therefore, mock at my repose?
   Is it my fault I am alone
   Beneath the feathery Tamarind tree
   Whose shadows over me are thrown?

   Nay, I am mad indeed, with thirst
   For all to me this night denied
   And drunk with longing, and accurst
   Beyond all chance of sleep or rest,
   With love, unslaked, unsatisfied,
   And dreams of beauty unpossessed.

   Hating the hour that brings you not,
   Mad at the space betwixt us twain,
   Sad for my empty arms, so hot
   And fevered, even the chilly stone
   Can scarcely cool their burning pain,—
   And oh, this sense of being alone!

   Take hence, O Night, your wasted hours,
   You bring me not my Life's Delight,
   My Star of Stars, my Flower of Flowers!
   You leave me loveless and forlorn,
   Pass on, most false and futile night,
   Pass on, and perish in the Dawn!

Poem by Adela Florence Cory Nicolson
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